All posts by Sista Sho' 'Nuff

Sista Sho' 'Nuff
Latest posts by Sista Sho' 'Nuff (see all)

My Gift to My Children

As a mother, my number one goal has always been to protect my children. I left their dad because I didn’t want  my kids to grow up thinking that it was okay to hurt someone that you are suppose to love. I’ve made it a point to not flaunt men in front of my kids because I didn’t want them to have a negative image of women. I also made sure to tell them that I loved them, that I was proud of them and that I thought they were the most beautiful human beings walking the planet everyday because I didn’t want them searching for it in other people.

I do these things because it was what I always wanted, from my own mother. It was the words that I thought would have made me stronger and less susceptible to the negative in the world. Parenting is trial and error really, there is no book or outline to tell you how to do it right. And even if you try as hard as you can, it doesn’t mean your kids will automatically be successful at life.

But what I have done is created two souls that have grown up to be intelligent, handsome and well mannered boys. And before I pat myself on the back, I have to tell you that with all the good I have tried to implant and nurture in my children. I have also given them my bad…

When I was younger I had a very negative self image. I constantly doubted my worth, questioned my intelligence and my looks. I didn’t feel smart or pretty, I suffered from depression. I spent a lot of time thinking about ending my life. I constantly put myself in unsafe situations and did things that I am not proud of in an effort to end my suffering.

But when I had my children, my life changed. It didn’t happen right away and it wasn’t that grand. But one day I made a conscious decision to live better for them. I wanted them to have a healthy outlook on life. I wanted them to see themselves, as I do; smart, strong and intelligent. I wanted to be sure that they knew their worth so that they wouldn’t roam this earth looking for acceptance and completion in someone else like I had.

But some things are out of my control. My children are both dealing with emotions and situations that are taken an emotional toll on them. My oldest son is dealing with a life change, he is having difficulty adjusting. I have spent his whole life telling him how handsome he is and now when he looks at himself, he sees something or someone that doesn’t exist. His mind has started to attack his way of thinking and I don’t know how to help him. He was once a child who didn’t worry about the thoughts and opinions of other people. Now he doesn’t like to leave the house. He walks with his head down, trying to disappear into the background. He can’t tell me what triggered this and I have no idea how to help him. We are doing vitamins and medications but at times, I don’t even recognize him.

He seems so unsure of himself and so lost. I am nervous to leave him alone for long periods of time. I hover when he’s at home, because I just don’t know. And I’m ashamed to share this struggle with people because I don’t want him to be looked at any different than the sweet, caring and giving person he is. And I never want him to think I’ve given up on him getting better with this.

And I wish it was all that happens in my house but I also have a teenager who has been battling depression for almost 8 years. It’s a type of depression I know very well because it is almost identical to what I dealt with as a child.  It happens suddenly and with no warning. It shuts you down, you can’t eat or sleep. And you just don’t feel like participating in life.

With the death of my dad a few years ago it has become so much worst. We have tried counseling and prayer, he doesn’t want to take medication and I am constantly worrying that I will come home to a “lifeless” teenager who couldn’t fight of his demons. He made a lot of progress with therapy but when his therapist relocated, he stopped wanting to go. He doesn’t want to see someone new but I’m not sure that is what’s best for him. But I don’t want to push him and he just shuts down on me.

It takes so much trust to open yourself up to a stranger about your inner most thoughts and fears. He blossomed with therapy, he learned to express his pain and feelings and it was so good for him. Now he’s just kind of floating through life. His grades fluctuate, he’s not really eating and I am so stressed out about him, I can’t focus.

This is my life now, I wake up every hour or so and I watch my children sleep. I go from room to room and I watch them. I make the dog watch them. And then I lock myself in the bathroom turn on the shower and I cry.

I cry a lot more lately, probably more than I have in my entire life.

I feel out of control, I can sit here and list all things that I am doing wrong; bills are behind because money is short. Money is short because I am unable to meet the basic needs for myself or my kids at this point. There is no outside help. My son is now a college freshman and without a grant from a state program we wouldn’t be able to afford him being in school. I work as much as any other single parent but I am overwhelmed. But I don’t care about all that. What concerns me is that I don’t know how to help my kids. It is the only thing I can think about, I obsess over them and how they are as any parent would I guess, because I am hurting too.

I’ve gained more weight in the last year then I have in the last 5. I sleep and I work, I don’t go out, some of my friends have stopped communicating with me and I don’t even have the energy to care or wonder why. My biggest fear is despite all the “sacrifices” that I thought I was making, my kids will still suffer the same fate as me.

My oldest is in his first relationship and although I see him opening up in way I wasn’t sure he would be able too, my fear now is how will he deal with this situation if it doesn’t work out? How will he cope? Will this be the one thing to push him over the edge?

I drowned my doubts and depression in alcohol. I exposed myself to things to help alter my mind to keep from living in reality; it was all I could do to cope. And now my fight is to not let them repeat my mistakes. And I’m not even sure I’m doing a good job at it. I’m struggling right now and all I can do is hold it in. I’m not good at hiding my emotions and it’s taking its toll on me and I feel guilty to say that because this isn’t about me.

This is about them. I’m not asking for sympathy, I just pray for guidance and a little grace for them. I pray for their hearts and their minds as well as their own personal growth. I made them strong and I just need them to see that. They are my matching set, the thought of being without either one of them or both scares me. I wouldn’t be able to go on. I couldn’t manage. So please bear with me, because my heart is open and it is pain. Have patience with me because this is a fight that I plan on winning. I invite you to take this journey with me or read along as I try to figure this out…I have to, there is too much at stake.

Thank you.

A mother on a mission.

Being their mother…

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or maybe because my sons have begun to “smell” themselves, but lately things have been really…intense, at my house. I hate when I have to go 3/4 crazy lady and 1/16th “my mom” (she’s bat shit crazy) on my kids. It hurts me to be upset with them or to feel them being upset with me. I’ve worked so hard to have a good relationship with them that I truly HATE to have to regulate.

My oldest is going to be graduating from high school in June and heading to college next year. My youngest is at the tipping point in life where manhood is quickly approaching and as hard as that may be for the both of them. I am in a complete standstill with my life and not quite sure how to pick up the pieces. So with three different personalities and attitudes, my house is level orange and slowly approaching a code read situation. And I’m not sure how to prevent it.

I guess the first thing I have to do is admit that I am mostly to blame for this. I have spent the majority of their lives trying to give them everything I didn’t have. I needed them to have a home with nice furniture; I wanted them to have the clothes and sneakers that I didn’t get growing up.  And no I’m not committing crimes to get these things but I am working HARD to provide them with as much as I can. Somewhere in this process I think they forget that I am not a millionaire.

I’m not looking for a medal. I don’t need Facebook posts about how I’m the greatest to ever do it.

I just need them to do the things for themselves, which will prevent them from making the same mistakes I have.

I’m frustrated that at their ages they seem to not grasp how hard all this is.

I’m not able to give them the world. I’m single. I work a lot. I have responsibilities. But I am trying so HARD to give them everything they need and most of what they want.

So when I get resistance and attitude about what I’m asking from them. It infuriates me.

I’m not perfect. I have made so many mistakes in the process of raising them, I can only pray that when they are old enough to truly understand, that they will take it all in and respect my choices.

This is not the plan I had for us. I wanted to give them so much more. I was NEVER going to be a single mother. I never wanted to have my sons see me with any man other than their father. I wanted to give them a home with the picket fence and the dog. I wanted family vacations and memories that would last them a life time. Not this. Not continuously living from paycheck to support check to second job paycheck. Constantly sacrificing one thing for another or having to explain to them how I can’t give them gifts for Christmas because I only have enough for family. So they are forced to agree to wait, so I can give them my gift cards that I receive as well as getting things after the New Year, sometimes tax season.

And although I know they appreciate the things they have. I don’t feel like they appreciate what I have to do to get them. And maybe they shouldn’t. They didn’t ask to be here. This was a decision that was made by me and their father. We chose to have two children that we were not equipped to raise and I don’t know how you raise MEN. As a woman it is completely idiotic to think I can.

But I am attempting to raise good people. You know the smart ones, who will not want for much in life like they may right now. I am hoping they will be good providers and hopefully great fathers one day. I’m trying to make sure my Sons are successful. That they graduate ON TIME with no drama, jail time or babies. I’m fighting to make sure they are productive and have a better life then I’ve lived. One I’ve tried to protect them from.

I never even thought about what happens if we didn’t work out as a family. Could I depend on him? How often would he be there? How much would he participate in their lives? Unfortunately more times than I would like to admit, that answer has been no. But I’ve been here every day, for every bruise, fever, stomach bug, every x-ray, E.R. visit or school meeting. You don’t get extra credit for that! It’s just a part of the job.

So when I look at them and see the anger and the frustration in their faces, I feel like a failure. And as mad as it makes me, as much as it hurts, I just wish I can show them their future. The one I see in them. Maybe then they will understand why I go so hard. Why I push so much. Why I be on the “psycho” setting when things aren’t getting done.

And maybe then they will get it. Then they will see how hard this is but also that it has been worth it. I LOVE being their mom. If there was NEVER anything that I accomplished in life, I’m ok with that, just because I had them. And it breaks me when they don’t see the hell I walk through daily, until I realize they are not suppose too. I’m here to guide them, teach them and love them. That’s all.

So I’m learning to not hold on to the hurt when I have to punish them or yell. To not hide in my room and cry when I can see the hatred in their eyes because my answer was no and not the yes they were searching for. I’m not trying to be the perfect parent here. No applauds are needed, no roses thrown at my feet.  I’m just trying to be successful at being their mother.


What it feels like…

So the last time I posted, I was in limbo about my relationship…my how time changes things. That “relationship” or whatever it was…is OVER. What I am struggling with is what I’m supposed to learn from this experience. Yes, I am one of those people. I believe EVERYTHING happens for a reason and therefore is a teachable moment. Trust me I never want to repeat this mistake again.

So I have been analyzing and dissecting the past year of my life looking for the moment where we went wrong. I still believe that I took the necessary precautions with him. I didn’t rush into anything to serious too fast. It took several months of long conversations and meetings to just “hang out” while my children were not around. I thought that we transitioned from friendship to relationship at a slow pace, so that neither of us would panic. I always thought of protecting the friendship that we built over the last 5 or 6 years as a priority. He made it seem like it was so important to him. So that was my first lesson, I always put HIS feelings first. I thought of HIS feelings before I even considered my own. I never spoke MY truth.

I sometimes think about the couple of times we hit rough patches and it was me who would give up and just quit, when we would go a few days with things strained between us I’d simply suggest that we end it. But he would always fight me on it. Always tell me how we were a team and we would be fine.

So when he said he needed space, I froze. I didn’t get it. What I have wanted to say was “FUCK YOU! How could you waste a year of my life with all types of empty promises?! How could you make me love you and now you can’t do it anymore?! Are you fucking kidding me?! Where do they, do that at?!!” but I didn’t and I still haven’t. There was a part of me that said “you should say something…speak up!” I couldn’t fight for us that day. I couldn’t let him know that I needed him THAT much. Or that I loved him in that way. I didn’t want to be weak.

But we couldn’t walk away. I tried to make communicating with me almost impossible. Something in me was telling me, there was more. I just couldn’t see it. So we decided to just step back. Not just be done with each other. Which brings me to my next lesson, I spent so much of our time asking him what he needed from me and never spoke up about the things I needed. I let him continue on like I was happy and I really wasn’t. I just accepted HIS feelings as OUR feelings. So if he was fine so was I.

But he had something big to tell me. It bothered me that I shared my secrets with him. I told him my fears. He knew more about me then my best friends. I turned to him when I was having a bad day and I was that to him. He cried to me, shared his failures as well as his desires to do better. We talked each other of the ledge as a couple. We were a unit as he had said to me so many times before.

And he had a “secret”. It couldn’t be good, what secrets really are? My mind went to a thousand different places. What it could be, what it might be and what it better not be.  I didn’t want to HATE him. He was one of my closest friends. He held me when I had nightmares, when I woke up screaming thinking someone was hurting me, he waited till I would let him touch me. I didn’t want to ruin that in my mind. I didn’t want to tarnish that. I was willing to accept that we didn’t work but if it turned out that he had done something unforgivable, I wasn’t sure how I would handle it.

What he gave me was a bullshit line about a terrible mistake he made. That it wasn’t what he planned, he wasn’t happy about it. And his biggest fear was losing me. He wasn’t being honest. Every fiber in my body rejected what he said to me.  You could smell it. His body language and how he spoke, all told a different story.  I couldn’t take it. And I still refuse to believe him.

As much as I respect honesty and truth, I hate for people to choose when they are going to use it and that is what he did. It’s comical. Only me! This man who would tell me he loved me and would never hurt me. I believed him, I trusted him and he completed smashed my already fragile world…. And I never saw it coming. And THAT is what angers me. There are millions of women who love to be lied too. There are websites that will help you find THOSE women. I am NOT one of them. I was comfortable in my loneliness. I had become use to my life as it was before us. And I was completely oblivious to my misery. I couldn’t miss what I didn’t have. Now I feel used and violated. I’ve been abused and it’s such a similar feeling. I feel …molested. Which was yet another lesson, I never looked beyond what was in front of me. I took him at his word which is fine but when there were things that should have been questioned, no matter how small I just didn’t ask. I don’t push, not because I don’t care. I just don’t see the point. I am 100% transparent in relationships, I always expected for people to be the same. I don’t crack under pressure or go crazy. I can handle the best of bad news. So I never see the point in lying to me.

And I think this is an issue that a lot of people struggle with. I’m trying to understand what people gain from misrepresenting themselves. And it doesn’t excuse women either. There are tons of women who use and mislead men. I’m just not one of those women either.

And how does that come into play when you date a friend? How do you respect and care for someone for YEARS and then as soon as you date them, you change? I’m stuck trying to figure out does this happen to all men or just the ones I choose? I’m hurt and I’m angry not because we failed but if he was dishonest the whole time then we never had a chance to begin with and he seriously betrayed my trust. And I didn’t have a lot to begin with!

The fact is I fell in love with him and US. They way we were together; I loved who he was as a person and a father. I even loved who I was with him. And no we were not perfect. But in my mind we worked and we were happy. But now he’s made choices that have changed that so drastically that I can’t even be on the same side of town as him without feeling sick. Now all his actions and words are negated. They carry no weight with me and they no longer have meaning. I am second guessing myself and my decisions. I feel like he set me back. And I know that is a lot to put on the shoulders of one man, but who am I suppose to hold responsible? Myself?

Yes, I have been able to step back and see where I should have done things different. But what chaps my ass is how people can decide when THEY get to check out of relationships. He had opportunities to walk away. Why didn’t he?

So now I’m stuck wondering when he stopped caring about my heart and decided destroying it was a better move for him. We would often joke about my lack of feelings towards love and relationships. How I acted like I didn’t need or want a man. Maybe he decided to teach me a lesson? And even though there are things that I can take away from this experience. Things that I can look out for or try to avoid in the future. It doesn’t change the emptiness I feel RIGHT NOW. I can’t just stop loving him. It doesn’t stop me from expecting him to call at the same times every day. Or to pull into my driveway on “our” night.

What I do know is it hurts, worst than anything I have ever felt in my life. I feel like someone died. No like I did. Like I passed away and I am floating around here watching everyone carry on while I’m stuck in purgatory. It’s embarrassing because I shouldn’t allow anyone to have this much power over my emotions. But isn’t this being honest? I can’t be the only person to feel this way when you’re heartbroken. HELL they call it HEART BROKEN for a reason right? My heart feels shattered, tattered and battered. Yeah that’s exactly what it feels like.

The Price of Friendship…

For lack of a better title I have been in a “relationship” with a man I consider one of my closest friends for about 9 months now. As of right now we have decided to step back and take some time to figure things out. (I refer to it as a “Ross and Rachel”).  Something I had pushed for a few times but now that he has stated that this is what he wants…I’m wondering did I make the right choice.

This all started almost a year ago with a comment about the type of “friendship” we have and I, like any time feelings become a part of the conversation, went into panic. In my defense, I have ruined a couple of friendships trying to turn them into more and I immediately went to that space. He may have been joking…but neither one of us are laughing about it now.  I’ve always believed that if I had to choose between love and friendship that friendship would win every time. But that is so easy to say when it’s not actually in your face.

As he knows from the friendship that we have had for several years before, I am very opinionated and a tad bit overbearing. I don’t like being told what to do and I kind of move to my own rhythm. I do anger mixed with a little sarcasm exceedingly well and I also think I have mastered the “pretend I don’t give a damn” approach to things. But in truth I am extremely thin-skinned. (shhhh! Tell NO ONE!) But the emotions that come with falling in love …are all foreign to me. Now that alone can be a lot to deal with. But most importantly, I’m damaged. I don’t like to be touched in certain ways, I hate to be yelled at, and I can’t stand to be backed in a corner or for a man to approach me in an aggressive manner. And I am completely emotionally void at times. I struggle with my feelings because I feel they make me weak. And that is something I cannot afford…

I think we are both in denial or maybe disgusted by the fact that one of your “closest friends”, the one that you told ALL your relationship war stories too. The person that helped you worked out your best game and laughed with about the hearts you broke. May be the one you want to be with…at least for now. Or so I thought.

I always thought I had a type, and by my own definition he wasn’t it. And from what I have known of him, I damn sure am not his. But I’d be lying if I never acknowledged that I always thought of him fondly. He is smart, funny, he’s tall, which is nice because I prefer to look up at love instead of straight ahead or down. And the icing on the cake is that he is the biggest sarcastic asshole I have ever met. We can carry on a conversation and I don’t want to rip my ears off half way through because of gibberish. He’s caring and giving almost to a fault and most importantly he is a man. And I don’t think I’ve seen one of those in a long time. But what matters the most to me is that he’s been there when I needed him. He’s been able to listen to my nonsense and give me solid advice and respect when I do the same.  We do argue like an old married couple but we always have. That’s just our thing.

I know what you may be thinking…so what the hell is the problem? EVERYTHING! We work, as friends and we both know that. What we don’t know is what the hell we are doing now. I’ve always cared for him, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t. I love him, we have known each other for a few years and I love all my friends. But now I love him in a different and more meaningful way. I love how he treats my sons. When I see them interact I think I love him a little bit more. How he is as a father is something I respect and admire about him. the fustration and love he expresses about his child, melts my heart.

I have become so use to the routine of us that I feel like I need him and that is something I swore I would never do. I don’t want to be let down and have to live with the disappointment. He has his own past issues and fears and at times I have allowed that to be what keeps me safe. I’ve kind of just hung in there and been present. Never demanding too much or asking for a lot because I haven’t wanted to be told no. Deep inside I’ve been fearing what has been echoing in the back of my mind. “Dont fall hard, dont fall too fast. He’s not ready”, so I’ve been playing it safe with him. So I thought.

The problem with playing it safe is that your heart has no way of knowing what exactly safe is. So I have been fighting with myself, I get mad at myself when I start to wonder the “what if’s” of our life together. Things like how our kids will get along, sleeping arrangements, work schedules and closest space….stop.

I’m scared that I will want it more and before he does. Or that maybe he won’t want it at all. That one day he will see me for who I am and decide that it’s not what he wants and he will no longer welcome me in his heart. And I don’t know if I can take that.

He already struggles to accept me as I am, I see him feeding his fear that I will be the same as the women in his past. I’m constantly wondering if when he looks at me, regret is all that comes to mind. That he just want to turn time back before all this.

I feel like my actions are second guessed. He does things that I know are purposeful, to push me away. He says things that are confusing to me emotionally and I am to prideful to ask him to explain it. “You love me too much”, is something that has been stuck in my head for months now. It drives me bonkers when he speaks of our relationship and the one that we will have after we are apart. It kills me slowly, because I just want him to fight sometimes. So I know that we’re worth it to him. That I matter or even that he feels something…anything.

It’s hard for me to accept that at 37 years old this is my first adult relationship. We have taken things slow which at times leaves me frustrated because the evil self esteem demons whisper how he’s not that in to me or that he’s not attracted to me or there is something wrong with me and that is so hard to fight off at times. And of course there are the not so friendly “friends” that I thought would be happy for me who have no problem suggesting that I am being used and played, constant and repetitiously.

But what scares me the most is how I feel different when he is around me. They way my body reacts when he is too close or how my heart skips when I look at him makes me want to vomit. I just wasn’t prepared for what this would do to me psychologically. It hurts…it feeds my insecurities at times but then he looks through me and I swear he can see my soul.

He cares about my heart. He holds me, even when I don’t think I need it. We cuddle something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. And he KNOWS me. He pays attention to my moods, he knows if I’m upset by my tone and he asks me what’s wrong and listens when I try to explain it… I’m going to just sit that right there for you. Cause I’ve NEVER had that!

Our biggest struggle is trust. As a friend I have trusted him with my car, my life and my money. But as something more I am stuck looking at him sideways questioning everything he says. Because now he has so much power. He is capable of so much destruction and an excruciating amount of pain. He knows about my past experiences and I am so terrified that he’ll use it against me, which is exactly what he’s worried I’ll do to him. I am a person who needs to know facts and details but I shouldn’t have to ask for them. He keeps his cards close to his chest only giving what is necessary to function and the option to ask for more. I just won’t. I wonder if he’s done playing the field. And if it doesn’t work and we move on from each other I can’t say that I’ll be able to do it gracefully.

It’s hard for me to not compare myself to the women in his past. I often think about our disagreements and how quickly he shuts down or dismisses my feelings at times and then I think about when he was with “___________” and how hard he fought for her forgiveness. How he went out of his way to make declarations of love for women who in my own mind couldn’t hold a candle to me. So then I start to wonder if he feels the same. Am I filling in for the one he really wants? What if the girl that he really wants decides she wants another try? Would he walk away? Could I just let go? Smile and be that supportive friend I have always been? Maybe with time and more healing I can look at him without wondering “what if?” ….Probably not.

We are both very sensitive and when I’m hurt I lash out, he shuts down, sometimes for days and it makes me insane because my thoughts are always “it’s over” where he just needed his space. I don’t stay mad and he can hold a grudge that can last a whole season of Love and hip hop!

So what are two damaged and healing hearts do?  I am stuck in a state of confusion here. I love him; there is doubt about it for me. And in my heart I know he cares deeply. But trying to navigate through our past pains and still maintain a healthy friendship is such a challenge. If I walk away I may miss something great. If it ends badly, I am losing a great friend. In my heart I know we can’t go back because I don’t know how. I mean at least how to be genuine about it. Or if I even want to. I know deep down I’ll always be thinking “yeah she cool…but it would have been better with me!”

So I’m trying to just live in this moment. Not over think it or drive myself crazy with questions that do not need answers. I’m just trying to live in my truth. I know he loves me, to what degree…I’m not sure. I love him, at times maybe too much but it’s the way my heart works, I can’t half ass it. So even if this moment is a permanent one and we move in different directions I’ll still love him. Still see the greatness in him. I’ll fight to hide my feelings until I choke on them. And I’ll murder anyone who tries to sell me out. But that is the price of friendship.

Family matters…

Growing up I considered my mother’s family as very “upper crust” clan, filled with educated home owners, with respectable jobs who basically lived the American dream. Just not us. From what I saw my grandmother had successfully raised 4 ½ out of 5 of her offspring. One of my uncles had three children they lived out of town and when he would visit during the summer or holidays he would always take us all to the fair, bring lobsters and his pet ferrets for us to play with. For some reason at the time I equated those things with success. In my eyes HIS life was the one my family should have been living. Both parents in the house raising three “privileged” children, I know no matter how my brother and I tried to hide it we were green with envy.

My other uncle was a teacher at the local high school. Before I attended school I thought it would be cool to have a relative that would look out for me. He had no children of his own so I thought maybe he’d be like an extra dad to my brother and I.  I imagined that he would help guide me and keep me motivated to do better. He worked with special needs children, and lord knows we were especially in need of attention.

My mom’s youngest brother always seemed to be the cool one to me growing up. He was political and it always looked like he knew a lot of important people. He always knew the ends and out of what was happening with education and the law. He also was a bit of a gadget geek so it was always cool to see what new things he would expose us too. He also had no children and I found it kind of fascinating how he was always so passionate about what was going on in the world.

Rounding out the bunch was my aunt who was the baby; I looked at her more as a big sister growing up because she was just everything in my mind. I wanted to be her. I even changed my name to hers when I was little (it didn’t go over well with my dad).  She would babysit us and we would have movie nights. It was the greatest experience of my young life.

As a child I could tell there was something different about my mother in regards to her siblings. They were all high school and college graduates where she struggles to get her GED. We lived in the projects, we had roaches, and we were on public assistance. My mother had two emotions and those were mad and pissed. Mad was every day. She yelled she cussed, she threw things, pissed was a little more creative, she’d pull, punch, and belittle then. It could go on for minutes, hours or days. You just never knew who you where waking up too.

The leader of this clan would be my grandma. She was always classy. She stayed dressed and it seemed like her and my granddad made a power couple in my eyes. They threw parties and cookouts and it seemed like half the town attended. My granddad was always quiet, his voice was a little louder than a whisper and it was always so hard to understand what it was that he was saying. But he was cool. And you can tell he was loved. When he passed away years ago there was a church full of mourners to celebrate his life. I thought that was an important moment to know just how many lives he had touched.

With all this greatness floating around us I think it’s fair to say my brother and I felt like aliens. Or maybe I think we felt like orphans who were adopted into a well to do family. Well maybe that’s not fair to say. I can’t really speak for him, I felt like an adopted orphan alien.

For all of the great things that you saw when you looked at my family there were things that people didn’t see, things that too this day causes me to hold on to anger. My uncle with the “privileged” children and I had an argument when I was about 16 years old, I complaining about his children’s laziness and he about my mouth; I wasn’t surprised when he grabbed me, slammed me into the refrigerator and told me how I was never going to be shit. I believed him. And just that simple, I closed the door on him, his children and any attempt for a better understanding.

When I entered high school I’ll be the first to admit I was a borderline alcoholic. I’m sure my behavior was disgusting and I had to be an embarrassment to my uncle who worked there. He would let me know every chance that he got. So one day when he called me into the office to tell me how I was failing most of my classes and how I was a complete embarrassment to him. He said things that I’m sure at the time were meant to motivate me to do better. They just didn’t. So as I walked out of that office with some flip comment rolling off my tongue, I ran to the bathroom sat on the floor and I cried. I gave up the notion that we would ever be more than what we were in that moment. And I closed the door on us also.

Almost a year after high school and moving out my life changed quickly. I had begun a relationship that would eventually lead to permanent scarring. I wanted out but I didn’t know how. I was lost because my friends were all living their lives, in college and being teenagers. I was the fool who wanted to grow up quickly. I wanted to turn to my aunt but I didn’t know how, she was married now and I just didn’t think that we were in a place where I could talk to her. Our relationship changed and I wasn’t able to tell her that it hurt me. At that time I was a firm believer that telling people how I felt would only be used against me. So I said nothing.

So at 19 my life completely changed all with one phone call. I was sitting in front of my mother who by the look of joy in her face already knew the answer when she asked me “what did your doctor say?” I’ve never been a good liar. I couldn’t think fast enough on my feet to tell her something else. I wanted to say “I have an infection and they are calling in a script” but I knew that would lead to “what kind? How’d you get it? I told you he was cheating on you” I just wasn’t ready. So in my heart I said a prayer that she would understand. That for once she would just be my mother and help me.   I was scared; I didn’t know what to do. “They said I’m pregnant but…” I wasn’t ready to be a mother. Before I could get it out my mother’s face grew this devilish smile and she picked up the phone dialed a number and said “good, now tell your grandmother”

I started sweating and I wanted to throw up as my grandmother said “hello” I tried to make small talk but all I could say was “grandma my mom said to tell you that I’m pregnant”. What I didn’t expect after the long pause was for her to say “well I hope you know that having a baby is not going to make him stay with you…” I wanted to die. She went on to tell me that my child was my responsibility so do no t call her or my grandfather for diapers or money when I don’t have it. I felt dismissed and embarrassed. I know that it wasn’t her intentions to make me feel that way. But that’s not what this is about. So I cried, I cried while my mother reminded me about all the negative things that my family has always thought of us all. How we would never be good enough to fit in. and for once, I believed her.

What I had to do next was tell the rest of my family or so my mom said. I could smell the satisfaction that radiated from her body as I slowly sank into depression. I took my dad to breakfast thinking that in public he wouldn’t lose it on me. I was wrong. He yelled and I cried. And after he saw how hard I was taking it he held me. And it helped. For a while.

I no longer had a relationship worth mentioning with my dad’s family so their opinions didn’t matter to me. What was the hardest for me was my aunt; she let me know how she wouldn’t have time to be waiting on me to find a babysitter when she was ready to go out. I was crushed. I was secretly waiting to make it to 21 so that I would be able to be a full-fledged adult and hoping that we would be close like I thought we use to be. At that moment I realized I was wrong. Then to my surprise after a day of tears and what I can only equate to rejection I came home to the following message, “I heard about your situation and I just wanted to make sure you knew that the government has changed the welfare laws and you can only be on public assistance for five years now” that was from my uncle the gadget geek, who stayed up on all things political. At the time it took everything I had in me NOT to jump out of my third floor window.

But then something great happened. My “in laws” where ecstatic. I never felt more loved or more welcomed by anyone as I did by them. It was everything I ever wanted from my own family. And they made it clear to me that I was a part of them now. Nobody made me feel like I was ruining my life no matter how hard I knew it was going to be. They accepted me. And that’s when I decided to close the door on my family. I gave up that fight. And even though I still attended thanksgivings and Christmas with them, in my heart I sectioned them off and locked them away. I stopped sharing my life with them because I felt like they didn’t want to be part of it anyway, they never did. When there was family functions id always be late because I had to force myself to prepare for whatever my heart would hear as judgment.

When I got pregnant twice more and had miscarriages. I told no one. For every time I ran from my own home because the abuse I suffered from the father of my children was too much to take. I would just stop running. Because I realized I had nowhere to go. And if I left him that meant I had to leave his family and I wouldn’t survive without them. So when I was pregnant with my second child I waited until I couldn’t hide my stomach anymore before I told anyone. I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want to be hurt again. My bubble had become so small as it was, I just couldn’t take anymore negativity. I’m not sure if it was the best decision but it was the choice I made with the information I had at the time (as Iyanla would say). I had decided it would just be us, me and my kids and him. And I allowed myself to just take it. And everything else that was thrown at me. I needed to stay with him because then I would be alone. That’s what I would tell myself after every fight, every demeaning and degrading comment, everyday.  I had to prove to my grandmother that he wanted to be with ME not just because I got pregnant and that I didn’t trap him. (I was the one that felt trapped). I wanted my uncles to know that even if I didn’t amount to shit that I would be a good mother and have a family. Something that they seemed to not want, I was good at. I wanted them all to know that even though there were times when the only thing to eat in my house was what came on a WIC check I wasn’t a welfare case. I had to make my mother see that I was loveable and wanted. Two of the things she swore id never be.

As much as what happened hurt me at the time I will say that I was motivated by it. I didn’t want to be those things. I am proud of the fact that I have never called and asked my family for money for diapers or anything else. I never was on public assistance, although I did get food stamps for about six months while I was pregnant and in nursing school. I made sure that I did it on my own. I worked full-time and went to school full-time with two toddlers because I felt like I had to prove myself. I work two jobs killing myself and I go without at times because I don’t ever want to be needy. There are times when I have stumbled and I’ve had to lean on my close friends because they have become a surrogate family to me and my children. And there are still times when me and my children sit home alone on holidays or celebration because we just feel like we don’t belong. There were times that I cried about it. There were moments when I wanted to end it all. But my children motivated me to make it through.

As I’ve gotten older I have come to terms with how my family functions. It’s not that we don’t love each other or want the best for each other; we just don’t function on a level where there is an overflow of emotion. I accept that. We’ve also made more effort to gather together more. This is good for my boys because they aren’t really around any other relatives. What still bothers me is the silence. How nothing is ever really talked out, just talked about. There is never any closure. So we smile at the table and we joke and then when we have to gather for anything other than a holiday there’s a strain. I’m not sure if that will ever go away.  I try to make an effort to show up to things on time because I’m learning that sitting on the bed or in the car praying for change won’t get me anywhere. At my age I’m also learning to speak my mind and my heart. I still struggle with sympathy because that was something I learned to let go of long ago. I don’t want to repeat this cycle with my children. I don’t want the thought of disappointing me push my kids or grandkids to the types of things that I have endured just so I wouldn’t look at them differently.  But I am slowly learning that after all that has happened or has been said family is all that matters.

For My Ex’s

So today I was told that basically I was a HORRIBLE girlfriend back in the day (high school). I was mean, bossy and insensitive to people’s feelings. (Which was also a turn on I guess.)I was told that I was selfish and left people feeling used.

In truth he was right. I had no regard for the hearts that I “broke” I was only feeding on the emotions of any young man that I could trick into caring about me.

It wasn’t something I did purposely, I didn’t set out on a daily mission to find a heart, capture it and then slowly break it. What I do realize now was that I was using these poor unfortunate souls to fill a hole in me that was left by the lack of attention or affection that I needed from home.

My experience with men for as long as I could remember had been violent and inappropriate. So by the time I was 14 or 15, I had what I felt was a complete understanding of what was on most men/boys minds…sex.

But what I realized very early on was that I didn’t HAVE to give them what they wanted to get what I needed.

Like a predator I would seek out boys that were probably just as damaged as I was. And I would give them the thing that they really wanted…attention. I’d listen to their fears and life stories. How their mothers were on drugs or caught up with different men, how they basically felt invisible. Boys who longed for the attention of an absent father and a mother who just never had time, I sympathized because I understood those feelings. I would let them know that I could see them. That their hearts where safe with me…and I would destroy them slowly.

I tried to care. I tried to love them the way I could see that they loved me. Some people will say that a teenager knows nothing about love. I disagree. I think that when you’re young you experience the purest form of love, because it hasn’t been tainted with lies and distrust yet. You haven’t been cheated on or dumped. No one has left you for a younger prettier model of yourself yet.

So it’s not that I didn’t love these gentlemen, I just didn’t know how to show it. From the time I was about 14 I had what I would call a steady boyfriend. He would get my attention and my time. I’d care for him deeply but never would give all of myself to him. I didn’t want to be weak. And from what I saw, sex made women weak. So I would have another boyfriend to balance out that feeling. Always on the other side of town and at a different school. And usually there would be an older gentleman somewhere in the middle of the mess. Someone who would buy me nice things and give me compliments tell me how special/ beautiful I was. Because all he wanted was sex…so all I wanted was what I could take before he figured out it wasn’t going to happen.

For the four years I was in high school I had what I would consider three long term relationships. Two that lasted about two years and one that lasted a year. I loved these three gentlemen. Two of them I still love to this day. But it didn’t stop the 12 other “relationships” that ran concurrent and also consecutively around them.

I justified my actions that they more than likely where cheating on me because I wasn’t having sex with them. That’s what helped me to not feel guilty. I remember my brothers saying that I needed to sit down somewhere before one of them broke my neck. I’d basked in the attention I got from them and their friends. I was a “beast” as they put it, being that I could have two or three guys at the house one after the other, sometimes introducing them, always collecting from at least one of them, be it money, alcohol to drink or weed to smoke. That was my worth. The cost to be in my presence, I suffer for that now.

I never considered myself a pretty girl. I just knew what to say to get guys attention and got very good at keeping it. I learned very quickly that the sooner I took sex off the table but left the “conversation” of sex in the room; it was all I needed to get what I wanted. Didn’t matter if it was a teenage boy, an older married man or a true love. Not everyone is ruled by their genitals when they are in love.

What I never considered was that once I gave into what a man wanted the power would shift and I would become the one who was in competition for love and affection. I was so good at making people feel desired and wanted that when my time came I fell for the same trap I’d set for so many people so many times before. I let a familiar face and friendship mislead me. And I paid for all the pain I caused.

I spent a lot of my life trying to make up for the terrible things I’ve done. I broke a boy’s heart; I know I did because 18 years later he still can’t look at me. I lied and mistreated a few. All because what I needed from them was more important than what they may have wanted from me. I have even tried to revisit my past relationships. Hoping that the love they once had for me still dwelled in their hearts; still wanting them to fix my brokenness.

In the end I think I only got back what I gave. My high school sweetheart who I loved for years after we broke up took me for a ride. And I felt used, cheated and lied to, but I think that maybe he felt justified.

My mistakes were that I expected the love they had for me to be the same. Not alter or change just because we were grownups now with real life experiences and failed relationships.

What I’ve learned is that you can’t go back. You can only apologize for the pain you cause. But when you use people and take from them what you need and leave them bleeding, that wound doesn’t heal.

So the “ex” that told me how horrible I was to him, I apologized and I asked him to forgive me. I need him too.

I had no idea the damage I was capable of doing at the time. I was just trying to heal myself selfishly. I have spent a long time waiting for the ones who have hurt me to acknowledge their actions and apologize or at least give an explanation for it. That hasn’t really happened yet but it’s only right that I do the same for the people I have hurt. So I have made the decision to seek out people I have wronged and if an apology is what they need then I am woman enough to give it to them. This may not do much for them but I have to try. I can’t very well forgive those who have wronged me holding on to guilt now can I?

For the person who saved my life…

Around the age of 14 I had decided my life was no longer worth living. The truth about the sexual abuse that I had experienced as a child was known and my aunt and grandmother accused me of lying and the rest of my family started to treat me like an outcast. I had a few close friends that I could talk to about my life but this wasn’t material that 14 yr olds were use to covering. I had started to see a therapist and none of it was helping me. I felt lost and like no one could understand me. My mother was not the supportive or affectionate type, so I was scared that turning to her would just make her angry. I had given up on the thought that my life would get better. It felt like no one could understand what I was feeling and I had no one I could turn too.

By this time my dad had fallen deep into a world of addiction and had unsuccessfully been to rehab twice. I felt like a wall of water had fell on me and I was slowly drowning. I was uncomfortable with who I shared my struggles with because I never knew how that would come back to bite me. I was angry all the time, my grades were suffering, my attitude was garbage and I just didn’t WANT to exist.

I’m not sure how that changed but I do remember the person who changed it for me. He was a distant cousin who‘s mother lived in our complex. From the moment we connected, light began to flow through me. Out of respect, I’ll call him “Fam”.

He would talk to me about life and experiences, we would talk about dreams, he wanted to be in the NBA and I wanted to be happy. He’d let me cry and most importantly, he would let me sing. It was the only thing that I knew I was good at. My mother hated for me to sing in the house so it always felt like I was choking when I was home. When I would get outside and be around “fam” that was the first thing he would ask me to do. “Little ma, sing me my favorite song…?” and each day it was a different one. Sometimes it was En Vogue or SWV, some days Bon Jovi or Patsy Cline. He would always let me pick and they were always his favorites for that day. He was only 18 or 19 at the time but in so many ways he seemed so much older and wiser. But he still knew how to be a kid, we would have water fights with ice cold or soapy dish water and he would be just one of us. He always knew what the day needed.

Because of all of my personal struggles I had a temper problem, I fought all the time, got suspended a majority of the time and most importantly I was grounded almost all of time. But “fam” would always come to my apartment and sweet talk my mother into letting me sit on the porch or come in the hallway to hang out. There were a few times when my mother would question our relationship. “What does a grown man want with a little girl?” she would always ask in an accusing tone. But the answer was nothing and everything at the same time. He was never inappropriate, never made me feel unsafe or like he looked at me in a sexual way. I trusted him with all I had. Told him my darkest truths and he never once made me feel judged. He would only say that I couldn’t let what I went through or how I am living be all that I am.  In a few months he had me looking forward to waking up; practicing what song I would sing next, excited because he promised to talk my mother into letting me into the studio so that I could hear myself on a track. He gave me something I hadn’t had in a long time…hope.

“Fam” also made me promise to keep my temper in check and to stay out of trouble; he told me how pretty girls shouldn’t be fighting all the time and that I had to channel my anger into something more productive.

In the beginning of the summer I was outside with a few of my friends and they decided to play a trick on him because he had a girl come visit. One of my friends was pregnant and pretended that he was her child’s father and that she was mad at the girl for being around. He got upset and asked me to get a grip on my friends. I thought it was funny so I let them continue before I stopped them and we moved on. But by then the girls that were visiting left and he told us there would be pay back for what we did. We all laughed about it so I just assumed at the next water fight he would use ice water or tackle us hard at the next toss up tackle game. I never saw what did happen, coming.

The next week as usual I was grounded and not allowed to come out side. My mother left for the day so I was stuck in the house talking to my friends from the window. As usual I saw “fam” walking by on his way to play basketball for the day. I remember the look on his face when he told me he was coming for me later because he had his kids for the weekend and he wanted me to sing to them.

What I didn’t know, was those same friends that I was hanging with teasing “fam” about his company, had company of their own. So when he played the same joke on them that we had played on him, the guys they were with got mad. There was an argument and heated words were exchanged.

I remember screaming and crying…seeing people running away from the basketball court. I watched the faces of people I had known almost my whole life covered in tears and shock. I watched as the same two friends walked away from the basketball court one screaming to the other “we don’t know nothing!” The house phone rung and it was another friend telling me that someone had been shot, a guy we knew from the neighborhood who was always in trouble. But in my heart I knew something wasn’t right. I watched as the ambulance pulled into the parking lot, were the basketball court was. My friend on the phone started to scream it was “fam”, he had been shot! I ran out of my house with no shoes on across the street and through the crowd. I remember people pulling me back saying that I was too young to see this. But I just had to see him; I needed to be there for him. I had to save him like he saved me. When I made it through the crowd I remember seeing him on the stretcher and it seemed like everything moved in slow motion. I screamed his name but he didn’t respond…I called him over and over again until I saw his chest slowly raise and fall. The paramedic placed him into the ambulance and I remember thinking “why are they moving so slowly?!”

As I walked back to my apartment I thought about the next song I would sing him. How he was going to be in the hospital or in the house hurting for a few days and he would want to hear a new song for everyday he was gone. But he wasn’t hurt; he was going to be ok. I repeated that to myself over a thousand times. When my mother got home and told me we needed to go up the street that something bad had happened. Walking up the street there was so many people from my neighborhood outside up against the fences and on porches, all of them crying. I remember thinking “why are they crying like this? What happened?”

When we got to a friend of my mother’s apartment I heard her yelling “I CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S GONE!! I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY KILLED HIM!!!”

“who died?” I asked about five times before someone said what I already knew. It was “fam” who was shot and killed. I fell apart; I couldn’t breathe…it felt like my heart was being crushed from the inside. I didn’t understand how anyone could take a person like him away. He was good and special. He saved my life.

It has been over 25 years since the day that he was killed. It has taken me a long time to find peace and reason in his death. I blame myself still for the roll that I played in a childish game that I never knew would turn into murder. I often wonder what if I would have stopped my friends sooner? What if we never would have stopped by where he was? Or what if I was outside that day? Could I have stopped the argument? Could I have explained that it was all a joke? The adult in me knows there is no way I can change what happened that day. But there is a small part of me that constantly wonders what if?

What I know now, is that he saved me. I feel for his two children who will never get the chance to know how special he was. I was a lost and damaged little girl who needed someone to care for her. And he did that. He gave me a sense of purpose and worth. He took away a blanket of shame that was covering me. What he gave me in a few short months was more than I had received in therapy then and the years that followed. In no way do I pretend to understand death or the purpose of taking another person’s life. What I do know is that every day and more than likely several times a day lives are being taken and being changed in an instant. I don’t think I could ever repay him for what he gave me, I have told my children about the lessons I learned from him, what he gave me and how his passing still haunts me. When I go to see him at the cemetery I apologize to him and ask for forgiveness. And then I tell him about my life, the changes and how I’m getting better. How my kids are and what I’m doing differently. And before I leave I thank him for what he did for me. How all the things that I have accomplished would not exist if it wasn’t for him. And that I will never forget.

Why I hate the word beautiful.

When I was about 5 or 6 years old I started being molested by a family member. It’s usually a subject I can talk about, but I’ve never really been able to write openly about it. So I’ll give it a shot. My first memory is of being at a relative’s with all of my cousins; we would laugh and play all day. But at night when it was time to lay down, things became very uncomfortable. I realize now how powerful the mind is because there are things that my mind will not allow me to remember. And then there are things that no matter how hard I try to forget I can’t.

“You are so beautiful” he said and asked me to follow him into a separate room. I can’t forget the way he smelled or the pain that followed. I also remember how I would close my eyes and dream of beautiful things. How I was a princess, a pirate, a warrior. All things that made me strong and powerful. And when he was done, he pushed me away and told me to go lay down. In the morning when it was my turn to take a shower, I just stood in the hot water trying to scrub his smell away. I’m not sure how often it would happen after that but I know there were several incidents between the first and the last time.  I remember saying that my mom was going to be mad because I my panties were dirty one night and how he told me I would be fine, how my mom knew all about our special times and she said it was ok. So when I went home and my mom said nothing about my filthy panties, I believed him.  After a while it became routine. I knew by the way he looked at me and what he would whisper to me at the table what would happen when the lights went out. I tried so hard to fight sleep and stay awake, even talk to my older cousins thinking that eventually he would get tired and just fall asleep first. That very rarely happened.

As time went on I remember saying to him what they told us in school, that he is not suppose to touch me like that. He said that it was “only for people who didn’t have permission” and if I told, my parents would be mad at me because I was going to make everybody else jealous of how special I was. He also said that my other cousins were going to start getting mad because I was prettier and how he was teaching me to be a woman early. That the others wanted to know but he chose me. And then I started to notice how different my other family members behaved towards me. I was singled out not just by him but by the others and labeled a “favorite”. He would buy me extra candies and let me choose shows on TV to watch which lead to me being ignored and isolated. I finally got enough courage to say no to him when I was about 9 or 10. I remember yelling “I’m going to tell my daddy on you!” and he laughed. Then he grabbed me by my hair and threw me down and I do not remember the rest. What I do remember is even after he stopped it seemed as though I was marked. I became a target that other family, male and female “used” in situations that I am still not fully comfortable discussing.

Around the age of twelve I met this boy who was my neighbor’s brother. I had a big crush on him and he seemed to like me to and so when he said to me “I think you are so beautiful” there was an immediate raise in my pulse. I was so infatuated with the notion that he thought that I was special.  It took about 6 months before he started to get angry about everything. If I was talking to another boy, if my friends were visiting, if I had on shorts. Attitude became arguments and before long he slapped me. He said I disrespected him by saying hello to the maintenance man. From then on things became more complicated. He would follow me places and pop up around my friends. He would yell about my clothes and call me a “bitch” or a “hoe”. I never understood what an abusive relationship was. My mom had a boyfriend that would hit her, but he would buy her flowers and candies and she would smile and I thought to myself, “that must be love”. So when it happened to me at 12 I couldn’t believe that after all I had experienced I had found someone who really loved me. Our relationship changed when he decided it was time for us to take things to the next level. For me all I knew of intimacy was pain and that was not something that I was eager to repeat. So I said no and he went into a rage. He grabbed me and choked me and threw me on the bed and he said “I guess you like things the hard way” I remember thinking “you have to find your place, go to that place, where you’re a princess, be a princess!” just when it was almost too late for me his sister came home. I rolled to the corner of the bed and laid there until he told me to go home. Later that night he said I wasn’t ready to be with him because I wasn’t a woman yet and when I was ready to be a women then to come find him. He’s dead now, I didn’t kill him, but I would like to shake the hand of the woman who did.

By the time I was 16 years old I was so damaged by my experiences I didn’t know how to communicate. My parents now knew what happened when I was young and I started counseling. The problem was I wasn’t ready for counseling because I was still being abused. By this time I was a functioning borderline alcoholic. I would take bottles of Pepsi and pour peppermint schnapps in it, in order to go to school. I couldn’t function without a drink, which started when I was 12 and by then I started smoking weed A LOT. With an altered state of mind became the only way I could interact with people. Not soon after there was a guy that I went to school with who use to ask to walk me home. He hung out with some of the guys in my neighborhood, so I thought it would be ok. I asked about him and everyone said how cool and funny he was. There was no reason for me to think anything was wrong. On the way home he kept telling me how pretty I was. I told him he was full of shit and I didn’t believe him. He said “you’re not just pretty, your beautiful even though your brown skinned”. I became nauseated, light headed and I began to sweat. But I never ran. He proved to be a misrepresentation of himself after a water fight he trapped me in a basement and tried to force himself on me in the laundy room. I was saved by a man that heard my muffled screams. He’s now on the sex offender registry for raping a young girl. I sometimes wonder how many girls like me did he trap in the basement?

Don’t get me wrong I have had some wonderful young men who came into my life during these times. Unfortunately I was so far gone, I couldn’t see them. I had a high school boyfriend that I wouldn’t allow to hold my hand the first year we were together. I feel bad at times because I took him through so much of my emotional baggage I wonder if he would ever forgive me. I just didn’t understand what I was going through or how to deal with it. So I drank and smoked it away. It became the only thing that comforted me. Drinking made it ok to fall asleep without nightmares. I would just drink till I would pass out. There’s not one place that I went between the ages of 12-19 that I wasn’t drunk or high. And nobody noticed.

I was about 18 when I decided to try and function in a real relationship. I wanted to be intimate on my terms. I was with someone I thought that I could trust. We knew each other a very long time and he was patient with me about how I would respond to him and my hang ups with affection. And at first it was great; I thought I had found a man who would love me forever and never hurt me. I told him I was pregnant and then he called me beautiful.

I was six months pregnant the first time he grabbed me by my hair and slammed my head into a wall. When our first child was 3 weeks old, he beat me till I passed out. I fought back but it really made no difference, he just became more stealth in his approach. He would turn all the lights out in the house because he knew I was afraid of the dark. He would step out behind me and laugh as I would scream and cry. He would hold me down and force me to be intimate and then afterwards tell me that I liked him being rough with me. He would cover my face with pillows as I slept and as I would gasp for air he would quiz me about my day’s activities. As it continued I started to isolate myself from any and everyone that cared about me. I would only see my family on holidays, I wouldn’t answer the phone, which I wasn’t allowed to do if he was home, because I didn’t want to explain to people why I wasn’t coming around. He knew the names, numbers and addresses of all my friends. He made it perfectly clear that our relationship was “till death do us part” and I believed him. I suffered two miscarriages due to the stress and the violence, I started to gain weight and my hair was falling out. I didn’t recognize myself. I became angry and bitter towards people. Especially happy ones. I just couldn’t be happy for other people, even the ones I loved. I didn’t understand what it was that I had done in my life that put me in the situation I had been in.

The fighting became so normal that our son would just get up and leave the room when it started, I could hear him close the door and turn his TV up. He would say to his little brother “don’t cry, it will be over soon, mommy’s been bad and daddy had to teach her a lesson”. As hard as it was I finally was able to get out of that situation. Things that happened in that relationship, I am ashamed to write, I have never repeated and I don’t try to think about. And yes the breakup in some ways was worse than the relationship. He was more violent in the first 2 years of us breaking up then he had been in the time we were together.  It took him 3 years to stop checking my phone and calling back numbers he didn’t know, almost 5 years to stop treating my house as if it was still his. He would drive by in the middle of the night and knock at my window, to make sure I didn’t have company. It was a very stressful time.

We have been doing better with boundaries in the last couple of years. I know sometimes my friends who now know the majority of the truth struggle sometimes about the choices I make when it comes to my relationship with him. There are things I don’t force on him. He pays an amount of support that is very beneficial for him. And it has only been fairly recent that our intimate relationship has ended. He doesn’t take our children over night, for his own selfish reasons and I choose not to challenge that because I want my kids to be where they are wanted.

The truth was for as angry as I was as a child I am NOT a fighter. I did lots of it in my youth but it was never who I was. I fought because I didn’t know how to control my emotions. I couldn’t tell people that I was dying on the inside. I honestly have no fight left.

Once I became a mother, I had to change my habits. The drinking decreased to almost none and the smoking is nonexistent. And now that my children are out of a chaotic home situation I try hard to avoid drama. But this process has been a very slow one for me. I still haven’t gained enough courage to be in a relationship. I’ve become very self conscious and trust is a major issue for me. I have a terrifying fear of repeating my past mistakes. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not ready or just the fear of hearing a man say “you are so beautiful”, because I HATE that word.

Love in 2014

I get a little embarrassed sometimes when I tell people I have never been on a date. The truth is I am in my mid thirties, a single mom who has NEVER dated. Meaning, NONE has ever come to my door, brought me flowers, taken me to dinner and a movie and brought me back home. There’s never been that awkward moment at the door where I get to contemplate, “do I kiss him goodnight? Do I invite him in?” Nope, not for me. Why? Because I never gave myself the chance.

My first mistake, I am a serial relationship monster. Since the time I could spell boyfriend I had one. And no matter the age I was in “relationships” my entire adolescence. As a young adult I spent close to 10 years in a relationship and now after all the time has passed, I have some kids and a whole lot of mileage to show for it. And yes there were dinners and movies but we were already together so I refuse to count that. He never dropped me off at the door, we lived together! And even before all of that we were young so a date was a movie or stopping to get pizza. There weren’t any damn flowers!

As that relationship ended I found myself regressing. Returning to childhood ways, group dates, meeting up at the club and after we’d head to Denny’s for breakfast. That was the closest I have ever gotten to a real date. Now I’ll be honest and say there was a time where I was involved with a guy who was incarcerated. When I would visit him we would sit and talk for hours about life and relationships, politics and drug laws. It was a very interesting experience and to him these were dates. Sprites and chips from the vending machine and conversation. Well I have to say if I had to grade it I’d give it a 9 out of 10. So maybe I have been on a date technically, just not one that didn’t include a room full of people, a corrections officer, and occasional drug smuggling.

But that was years ago and I am finding it very difficult to find real love in this day and age. Don’t get me wrong, finding “love” in a temporary sense is no challenge at all. I even have a few girlfriends that are not shame to say they are all about the one night stands or quick hook ups. That’s not my speed but who am I to judge what works for them, I’m in no way a prude but I’m so not interested in fly by night booty calls either.

So now I’m stuck in limbo trying to figure it out. I tried to take a break from men so that I could clear my head. Allow my heart to heal and bounce back from a devastating situation. Now I’m having a hard time restarting my engine. I’ve tried dating websites, being introduced to guys by friends. I had even gone to GOD about it. But there is something really sad about saying AMEN after asking the Lord to send you A MAN.

I’m not just asking for a man though, I want something serious. A relationship that will sustain and eventually lead to marriage but that just isn’t happening for this girl. Beside serious cannot happen when I work two jobs, I have my kids in programs, I want to start going back to church on Sunday…so where is mister right going to fit in?

My biggest struggle right now is trying to hide my frustration when I hear a woman talk about how happy she is single. How she doesn’t need a man…yada, yada, yada…BULL! Nobody is happy alone. Now true I am content in the things I have accomplished for myself, the life I am able to provide for my kids and the fact that I did it on my own. But a sista can sure use some support! I’m not saying I want a man to come in and take over, pay all my bills and just take care of me, unless of course that’s what he wants to do, then who am I to refuse? I want a partner, someone who is willing to meet me half way. Someone who wants to accomplish and build something. A man whose idea of a good time is planning vacations with his family, not going to the local bar and “blowing money fast” on the drinks.  

Unfortunately for me I also have a lot of single friends, and as hard as it is to find a man it can be 10x’s as hard when your girls are out looking for the same thing. So that creates an even bigger problem for the single woman on the hunt (S.W.O.T.H). we all know that women are territorial like animals, if we have a connection with a man then its most women’s belief we should be the only one to have that connection. There is a code among women and to break that code could create catastrophic results. But the truth of the matter is that same code can be a little unfair, if I do meet a guy and I start to like him, I have to run a few names past him just make sure that I’m not dipping into the “used goods” pot. I mean I definitely don’t want to share everything with my girlfriends. But if I have three girlfriends who have each been with at least 10-15 guys…well that is at least 25-40 men (depending if their numbers overlap or not), that I cannot even think about dating. Now when you factor in the men that are already in relationships, in jail, dead or seeing other men…well you can figure the rest out. This is hard! I didn’t pass statistics in college but this is not working in my favor at this point.

In addition to the challenges of finding a man, you have to take into consideration that a lot of these men out here know they are a hot commodity. They know that the ratio of men to women works in their favor so now they are able to play the field and be a little choosier in their selections. Not only that there are guys out here who prey upon the weak and lonely just to add extra notches to the their sexual belts. And they don’t even have to work hard for it!

There is nothing on this earth more disgusting than going out on a Saturday night and when you walk into the bar/club, all you see is a bunch of women dressed to the nine’s like its prom season for grownups and the guys have on dirty sneakers, run over boots and a du-rag! The level of desperation has become so obvious the men are taking notice. They sit back and watch the women pick each other apart, whispering and pointing, “accidentally” spilling drinks on each other, having stare down competitions all set up for their personal enjoyment. And unfortunate we as women don’t even get it. Most women can’t even give each other a compliment without there being suspicion of a hidden meaning or thoughts of disrespect.

I’m not asking that men show up to the club with a three piece suit on, but it sure would be nice to see a man without ashy knuckles and a t-shirt on. It has become so bad I just sit in the house to avoid what I already know is going to happen. I love to dress up, I hate being gawked at. I do not like to be showered with bs compliments. I much rather a man approach me respectfully and with his honest intentions. If a man has a girlfriend I want him to say that upfront. Don’t tell me you have a “situation”, because I don’t know what that means and I don’t want any part of it either way.

I had a gentlemen approach me with house shoes on smelling like urine and when I politely explained to him I was not interested he proceeded to tell me that I was in no position to be “picky” that women need to stop being so stuck up and be grateful that a brother is showing us attention…I had to pray. I go out and all I see is men that usually a women would not give the time of day being swarmed by every single woman in the spot. We have become a bunch of attention starved monsters who troll around half clothed vying for attention. When we dress to go out now, it’s in full armor because this is war in these streets! Make up, tight dress, breast out, all hoping to get noticed just so we can pretend we don’t care. How sad. 

So now I wonder if that special someone even exists for me. Have I already passed him up? Was he a guy that I thought was too nice? A friend with potential? I saw on a television show once when a character was frustrated about not being able to find true love. His ex-fiancé said to him, “she is coming as fast as she can and when she gets here, all the waiting won’t matter.” I’m holding on to that and I hope and pray it’s true. Because finding love in 2014…may be the hardest thing I will ever have to do.

Boys 2 Men

 When I gave birth to my first child, a boy, I was clueless and unprepared. I didn’t know anything about raising a man. Truth be told, I still don’t. But I was comfortable in the fact that his father was so excited about having a son. He would talk for hours about the different things he would teach him. How he would be a better father than the one that he had. It was endearing, it was sweet; it made me love him that much more.

Three years later, I had another. Paranoia times two! I truly had no idea what I was doing. I was young, lost and felt unsupported. What I realized after their father and I went our separate ways, was regardless of how I felt, I had an obligation to my children. I had no idea that I would grow up to raise my children as a single parent, like so many women it was not my plan. How was I going to raise two boys into men? They didn’t ask to be here, nor did they ask to be brought up in a single parent home. That was all me and their fathers doing.

Where I think some of us women fall short, is the fact that we expect men to raise themselves. We put so much energy into our daughters, how to act, speak and carry themselves. We just kind of leave the “man stuff”, to the men. But what if there is no man to teach the “man stuff”? How can you teach a boy to be a man when you’re not one? I figured even though the relationship didn’t work; their father would still play an active role in their lives. That hasn’t always been the case. I’m still hoping that will change.

I have a theory about young men today and although you may not agree, I’m still going to share it. I think the problem with most of the men today especially ones born in single parent homes, are the mothers. There I said it. And before you send out the mob hear me out. As women we are emotional creatures, we are passionate, strong willed and sometimes determined- to be right. We tell our sons men don’t cry and not to show emotions like fear, hurt or pain.

So many young men today carry female traits and ways and don’t even realize it. If you think for a second that your sons are not paying attention, you are mistaken. When you are raising a man in a household with nothing but women, he is learning by what he sees. Yes he learns to be nurturing, respectful and caring. But he will see women who argue and gossip, disrespect themselves and each other. How can a young man learn to respect woman, when he sees them disrespect themselves regularly? So what they do learn is to handle conflict with debate, when debate doesn’t work, it may resort to violence and when violence is in play, do not lose! That woman will sit in each other’s faces while carrying on with one another’s boyfriends or husbands and assist each other in deception.

They also learn the art of arguing, how women will disrespect each other and the power of the word BITCH. I never understood how anyone could call himself a man and say that. But then I realize when you grow up in a house with women who use the word regularly, why not? Be it to describe another woman (“That bitch!”), a friend (“this bitch…”) or a stranger (“what bitch?”). These young men become desensitize with the magnitude of disrespect the word holds. So why not be comfortable calling your

girlfriend or wife one? Your mom called your aunt one. Your sister called her best friend one. How harmful can it be? We all know the answer to that question.

My biggest struggle was to get over the hurt of what didn’t work and stop making my kids pay the price for it. The hardest thing to do in failed relationships is to look at yourself and accept responsibility for the role you played in its demise. I had to accept what is and the role we both played in it. I had to learn to curve my “daddy bashing” also. It’s hard, it hurts and it is frustrating. But at the end of the day, the results are so much better when I can raise my sons in a house that is “male friendly”.

What I have realized in the time that it has taken me to mature as both a woman and a mother, is that I can only teach my sons how to be good human beings. I can try to surround them with positive role models and give them an outlet for their emotions. But I cannot teach my boys how a man does these things. I have to allow my sons to make decisions and sit in their consequences. What I hope they will learn from their father is that even though he may not be in the same house with them, he is still present. That a man takes care of his responsibilities, he is honest and has integrity. What I know is, even in bad lessons there is still learning. If my sons are disappointed by what type of man their father is then he has taught them who they do not want to be. If he happens to fall short as a father then I am praying that they will use that as template for the kind of father they will not become. And if he is able to step in to his position and be the father that I know he is, all I can do is sit back and watch as he leads them through the journey of turning my boys to men.